Understanding Portland’s Uninsured Motorist Claim Process

Posted on behalf of Rizk Law on Feb 26, 2020 in Firm News

All Oregon drivers are required to purchase car insurance. The minimum policy limits required by law protect the insured as well as others on the road if an accident they cause leads to damages. However, as much as 13 percent of motorists in the state drive without insurance.

If you are involved in a car accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, we encourage you to contact Rizk Law. If you have a case and we represent you, our Portland car accident lawyers are prepared to pursue maximum compensation on your behalf. Since we do not collect fees for our services unless we win a verdict or settlement, there is no risk to you.

Is UM/UIM Coverage Required in Oregon?

In Oregon, drivers must purchase Uninsured/Under Insured Motorist (UM/UIM) insurance, and the limits purchased must be equal to the minimum required limits of your liability coverage. However, the exception to this requirement gives you the option to purchase UM/UIM coverage with lower limits than your liability policy, but only if you sign a waiver.

Without this waiver, your car insurance must include UM/UIM coverage that is at least equal to the state’s minimum liability limits:

  • $25,000 due to bodily injury or death of one person in an accident
  • $50,000 due to bodily injury or death of two or more people in an accident

If you are caught driving without insurance, you will receive a citation for violating state law. Other penalties that could apply include:

  • Having your vehicle impounded until you provide proof of coverage
  • License suspension for as long as 12 months or until you can provide proof of insurance
  • Being required to obtain an SR-22 insurance certification; a filing “add-on” to your car insurance policy that flags you as a high-risk driver and leads to higher premiums for up to three years

Any citations issued to the uninsured at-fault driver who caused your accident may be helpful to your claim. Your attorney can help to obtain this and other supportive evidence to strengthen your claim and help you obtain maximum compensation for the damages you sustained.

How Uninsured Motorist Claims Are Different

When you are involved in an accident with an insured motorist, you typically file a claim against that driver’s policy. However, in an accident involving an uninsured motorist, you will file a claim with your own carrier. Your company will initially cover the damages you sustained and then pursue reimbursement from the at-fault driver, or his or her insurance company, through a process called subrogation.

If your damages exceed your UM/UIM policy limits, you may consider filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. However, if the driver did not maintain minimum liability insurance as required by law, he or she may not have the funds to cover the rest of your damages.

This type of scenario is just one reason why we recommend you contact one of our experienced lawyers after a car crash with an uninsured motorist. We have extensive experience with these types of claims, and we offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options.

Stacking Your UM/UIM Coverage in Oregon

Stacking insurance coverage in a car accident claim means, in simple terms, you can utilize not only the at-fault driver’s liability coverage, up to his or her limits, but you may also “stack” your own UM/UIM coverage on top of that policy.

Let us say, for instance, that the at-fault driver’s liability limits are $50,000 and your UM/UIM coverage is $100,000, but your damages are valued at $150,000. Prior to 2016, the most that you could receive for the claim was $100,000, $50,000 from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy and $50,000 from your own policy; the difference between the two policies.

Now the law permits you to “stack” the policies together so you can access the full combined amount of coverage for both policies, which, in the example above, would be up to $150,000. However, you must be able to establish the value of your damages.

Why an Attorney May Benefit Your UM/UIM Claim

Involved in a car accident due to the negligence of an uninsured or underinsured driver in Oregon?

At Rizk Law, we are prepared to help. We offer a free car collision consultation to review the circumstances of your accident, explain how insurance companies may try to devalue your claim and discuss your legal options. There is no risk if we represent you, because we charge no fees for our services unless we achieve a successful recovery on your behalf.